Dana Biosphere Reserve is the largest and most ecologically diverse protected region in Jordan. The reserve extends over 300 square kilometers and includes a mix of natural features that give it its natural beauty. The shallow valleys, mountain ridges, plains, indigenous trees and wildlife diversity make the biosphere a beauty to behold. However, a Jordanian government plan to explore copper mining within the reserve may threaten that beauty.

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Abdulrahman Ammarin, a local conservationist who protects the reserve, has been open with his frustration. “The excavations will ruin the area we were protecting for so many years,” Ammarin told Al Jazeera. He warns that such an attempt would lead to the loss of key species, some of which are only available in Dana.

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Ammarin has worked with the Royal Society For the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) for 20 years. The RSCN is a non-governmental organization that runs Jordan’s reserves. The Bedouin tribe, which Ammarin hails from, has also protected the reserves for centuries.

According to Ammarin, the exploration of copper in the reserve would lead to irreversible effects. He argues that besides the effects on birds, animals and the ecosystem, it would also affect the local communities. “The pollution will affect all of us,” Ammarin said.

The Dana Biosphere Reserve was established in 1989 and has remained protected since then. The reserve is home to over 800 different species of plants and over 215 species of birds. These species represent roughly one-third of all plant species in Jordan and about half of the bird species. Some of these are already threatened, while others are native to the reserve. Conservationists are worried that mining might drive away such species.

The RSCN and other conservation groups have condemned the decision by the Jordanian government to go ahead with its plans. According to Al Jazeera, the government began choosing mining areas in August.

“It’s a very diverse area with four different bio-geographic zones, and it also has important archaeological sites. Its biodiversity and heritage need to be protected,” said Fares Khoury, co-founder of the NGO Jordan Birdwatch and a professor of animal biology.

Via Al Jazeera

Lead image via Jonathan Cook-Fisher